Marriage and finance: poll results

Wealthy couple on a gleeful shopping spree

TEXT OF STORY

Tess Vigeland: If love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, well, then perhaps you can argue that money keeps that horse in shoes and those wheels in proper alignment. Now on that theory, last week we heard from Marketplace staffers about their spousal money arrangements.

Devin Robins: My husband and I have completely separate finances.

Paddy Hirsch: We have a single account.

Mitchell Hartman: We deal with our finances together.

Stephen Hoffman: We do have our own separate accounts.

Matt Berger: My wife and I share a bank account.

Hoffman: But the accounts are empty.

And then we invited you to take an online poll about your own habits. Out of about 300 responses, half share bank accounts. Ron Dearking of Minneapolis is in that camp. "If I remember correctly," he writes, "we promised to become one when we got married."

But about 30 percent of our admittedly unscientific survey, makes their money management slightly more complex, like Jennie Locklear from Raleigh, N.C.

Jennie Locklear: Me and my husband have separate checking accounts and one joint savings account. We split the common bills. I usually pay more for the grocery bills, but he pays when we go out to eat. And that works for us.

Maggie Furtak from Malden, Mass., says separate accounts help with that whole romance thing too.

Maggie Furtak: I don't know how you surprise your spouse for birthdays and holidays if you only have a joint account. My husband and I each have a personal account and we have a joint account, but we trust each other with our finances so we don't need to scrutinize every latte purchase that the other person makes.

Another 15 percent of you have completely separate accounts. And 1.3 percent said they didn't know who pays the bills. Uh-oh. Well for those folks, we have this advice from listener Joan Reed in Atlanta. She's a clinical psychologist.

Joan Reed: For a number of years now, I have worked with couples and advised them when they bring money disagreements into my office. What I find is that money is a lightening rod for more difficult issues in a relationship, such as trust, intimacy, communication, connection and so forth.

Her recommendation? Separate and joint accounts. Thanks for sharing your stories and do keep them coming.

Harry from "When Harry Met Sally": Sooner or later you're gonna be screaming at each other about who's gonna get this dish. This eight-dollar dish will cost you a thousand dollars in phone calls to the legal firm of That's Mine, This Is Yours.

Sally: Harry!

Harry: Jess, Marie, do me a favor, for your own good, put your name in your books right now before they get mixed up and you won't know whose is whose. 'Cause someday, believe it or not, you'll go 15 rounds over who's gonna get this coffee table. This stupid wagon wheel, Roy Rogers, garage sale coffee table!

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.

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